Written statement submitted by Pakistan for the United Nations Security Council Open Debate: Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery (8 April 2021)

Mr. President,

I would like to congratulate Vietnam on assuming the Presidency of the UN Security Council and welcome its initiative to convene an open debate on this important issue.

While the international community, through joint efforts and cooperation, has achieved significant progress on mine action in recent years, national and international mine action efforts are still confronted with numerous challenges.

The year 2019 represented the fifth consecutive year with high numbers of recorded casualties from landmines and explosive remnants of war (ERW), a majority of the casualties are civilians. The number of those maimed and mutilated is even higher.

Land-mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) also pose a major threat to the UN peacekeepers and are responsible for a large proportion of casualties in the peacekeeping operations. They restrict the mobility of UN peacekeepers, spread fear across communities and undermine peacekeeping mandates. Apart from death and injury, mines also undermine the ability of the humanitarian workers to carry out their critical tasks.

Strengthening international cooperation in mine action is, therefore, key to reducing the threat posed by landmines and other explosives to civilians and infrastructure and to safeguard peacekeeping missions and achieving the SDGs.

Mr. President,

International assistance and cooperation in mine action should take into account national conditions and needs of landmine-affected countries; differences among States with regard to their security environments and military strengths; and must strike a balance between humanitarian concerns and legitimate national military and security needs.

At the same time, the international efforts should aim towards enhancing the practical results of demining assistance and cooperation and ensure provision of new technologies to affected countries in detecting and mitigating the threats posed by landmines.

Mr. President,

As one of the largest troop-contributing countries to United Nations peace-keeping operations, Pakistan attaches immense importance to addressing the challenges posed by land mines.

Our peacekeepers continue to operate in many conflict zones where mines pose a grave threat to their safety and security, and seriously undermine their ability to fulfil the Missionís mandates. A number of Pakistani peacekeepers have been killed or injured due to mines and similar explosive devices.

The recent surge in attacks and fatalities of peacekeepers necessitate making a more Ďstrategic assessmentí of the threat posed by IEDís; increasing the level of preparedness against the changing nature of the threat; enhancing the capabilities of peacekeepers; use of new technologies in the peacekeeping missions to avert this threat; and allocating adequate resources for the safety and security of peacekeepers.

The development of strategies to mitigate this threat must involve close coordination, cooperation and involvement of the Troop and Police Contributing Countries (T/PCCís) who can bring an invaluable perspective about threat dynamics and challenges on the ground based on operational experience. The UN peacekeepers must be constantly updated regarding the IED threats within the Mission area.

There is also a need for greater engagement with the host countries. Enhancing consultations with host countries and respecting their ownership should be part of a comprehensive approach to counter the IED threat. Moreover, training and capacity building needs of host countries should be part of the response strategy.

Above all, the UN Security Council should continue to display firm determination to ensure the safety and security of the UN peacekeepers against this threat.

Security Council resolution 2365 adopted unanimously in 2017 fully demonstrates the priority that the international community attaches to addressing this challenge.

Todayís open debate is yet another opportunity for the Member States to send a strong message of unity on the issue.

Mr. President,

As a major T/PCC, Pakistan has a rich experience in the development and implementation of a national counter IED strategy.

We have also successfully implemented regulatory measures to control precursor material usable in IEDís. Over the last two decades, our security forces have enhanced their capabilities in terms of IED awareness, jamming and disposal as well as in conducting forensics and investigations. We have also established a counter IED, explosives and munitions school, providing state of the art training, including to participants from other countries.

Leveraging this capacity, Pakistan would like to offer counter IED training for Troop and Police Contributing Countries at our C-IED and peacekeeping training centers. This endeavor is part of our efforts to support a more coordinated and coherent UN response to IEDís in peacekeeping missions.

Pakistan has been and will continue to actively participate in all efforts to address the threat posed by mines.

Thank you.